November 20, 2002

Tuesday Labs With Louie

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Every Tuesday I hang out with my friend on the varsity hockey team, freshman goalie Louis Chabot.

Ok, hang out sounds a bit misleading. We don’t hit the bars or go cruising around Ithaca — we have chemistry lab together.

Picture this: Two guys in high tech safety goggles and those stylish plastic aprons.

Now forget all about it. Louie is like a rebel without a cause and almost never wears them. He’s a kid … doing his thing … kicking it. Can you blame him? The red goggle marks and the plastic smell of the apron are enough to drive anyone insane (let alone cramp some serious style). Still, differences in safety don’t keep us from keeping it real with the usual small talk.

We start with what happened over the weekend. I tell him about my wild night in, studying for my Comm 282 prelim, and he tells me all his tales of riding the pine in some bustling metropolis like Hanover.

Eventually we move into the more pressing issues, like “why is my solution green and yours brown?” Usually we take turns being wrong.

Louie and I partake in cultural exchanges as well. I talk about things like warmer climates, and he swears in french. We also do all of the usual chemistry stuff like titrate solutions, weigh grams of sulfate, and break glass objects from our lab drawer.

That was all before yesterday. Yesterday something changed.

Yesterday’s lab started as it normally does. Louie was in his seat, and I was five minutes late. The TA ran through the week’s lesson and some general info about the lab. Then the fun started.

It was pretty normal. The four of us in our corner began trading quips about things such as The Counting Crows, Canada, and lab procedures. Then I made the mistake of bringing up the hockey game.

The whole incident began when the girl across from us showed off her autographed Counting Crows shirt. She was really excited about it, and pointed to the signature.

“Do you see what this says?” she asked.

Louie and I were both impressed, but of course the joker in him couldn’t resist, and he lifted up his overshirt to reveal a t-shirt underneath. Louie pointed and then asked a similar question.

This time something was different. I figured I’d top Louie — I would try to beat him to the punch line.

“Do you see what this says?” he asked, pointing to a line of text on his shirt.

“Yeah,” I replied, “It says I lost to Dartmouth this weekend.”

Despite the laughter around the bench, something was off. The magic of Tuesday morning’s 8 a.m. chem lab had worn away — I had killed it.

I looked at Louie, and while he normally swears in french, I understood the ensuing comment just fine. Needless to say, he did not take the joke well.

This happened because I didn’t think about Louie’s feelings. He always seems so impenetrable — so inhuman. But he’s not.

A friend messaged me over the weekend and asked what happened to the hockey team. He could hardly believe they lost 5-2 to Dartmouth. I daresay his trauma was comparable to the time I realized my dad wasn’t a superhero at all, but instead a balding, middle aged, pharmaceutical salesman.

Why? I mean, why all the fuss?

The guys on the team are comparable to you and me. They eat, breathe, sweat and sleep. They are human and humans are capable of making mistakes.

The point? Don’t be so upset when the hockey team loses.

Sure they’re amazing at what they do, but does the sun rise and set with their win-loss ratio? At the end of the day we need to remember that they’re still human. They step off the ice, remove their skates and return to a semi-regular life at Cornell. In the end, they’re just kids … keeping it real … like Louis.

Archived article by Matt Janiga